I found this paper, or rather, saw it linked on Twitter. It purports to criticize the behaviors of online dating platforms for their sexual racism, suggest that sexual selection is the result of more than individual choice, but rather of cultural factors as well, “In this view, individuals’ intimate affiliations are not the product of “pure” individual choice, but are instead shaped by accretions of state and social power.” The paper then suggests that one can resist such assortative mating, “resistance simply requires recognizing that desire is malleable,” particularly it can be shaped by online dating platform algorithms. But whose desires should be shaped, I wonder. I’ll simply drop this paragraph here indicating whose desires should not
While it may strike us as normatively acceptable to encourage intimate platform users to be open to more diverse potential partners, we might find some categories more palatable for such intervention than others. For example, it might seem inappropriate to suggest that a Jewish user seeking other Jewish people “expand her horizons” past those preferences, which might be based on a number of religious and cultural considerations. Similarly, a platform suggesting that a gay user “consider” dating someone of a different gender would likely strike us as problematic. Intimate platforms can be very useful for minorities looking to meet others who share their background and values. Instead of drawing a bright line on what should or should not be acceptable categories to consider, we suggest that designers should take the needs of marginalized or historically oppressed populations into account when considering how intimate platform features are used. Careful consideration of the outcomes of the exercise of intimate preferences may reveal that some of these groups are at greater risk for harm than others, and that platform features should be implemented accordingly.Debiasing Desire (14-15)
So, the paper is clear that cultural factors are a partial cause for romantic interest in similar looking individuals. But then it also says that certain groups’ cultural dating preferences (namely local minorities) should be respected and not influenced by dating app algorithms. This is already incoherent, as to influence majority users into dating outside of their preferred ethnic/religious/cultural boundaries necessarily encourages them to date minorities. I do wonder though, do the authors of this paper think that world minorities should get special treatment or only local ones (say, Irish individuals should be left alone to date as they wish, but Chinese users should be influenced to date non-Chinese people)? Also, what of countries like Somalia. Should members of the Italian minority in Somalia be influenced to date/marry members of the majority since Italty has a larger population than Somalia or should Somalian Darod Clan (something like 50% of the population) be influenced to date the Italians but not the reverse.
All of this is to say, what are they teaching people in these schools? Do they engage in deliberation or do they just write words about things and ask editors to take out grammatical errors? Also, what exactly are the intentions of such a paper if the practical results of its efforts were so poorly conceived?